Through the years I’ve heard many Christians say (Overtly or by action), “I can’t forgive myself,” or “I’m saved, but I’m disqualified from ministry.” I submit to you that nothing could be further from the Gospel. Let me explain…
Judas committed the most grievous sin in the NT by betraying Jesus to be crucified. Any guesses as to who would be #2? (Pause) Peter. Peter & Judas BOTH followed Jesus for about 3 years… but Peter’s life trajectory was different from Judas.
We all know Peter denied Jesus three times (Mk 14:66-72). But the 3rd denial was the worst. Some don’t believe Peter “called down curses on himself” but that he cursed Christ Himself! THAT would be THE best proof that Peter was NOT a follower of Christ. Peter didn’t just deny Jesus, he cursed Him… But do you remember what followed???
After the resurrection (Jn 21:15-17) Jesus made Peter… the one who denied & AND cursed him… the leader of those for whom Jesus died (The Church)! Peter… the consummate failure… was chosen by Jesus to carry the message of redemption! Then Peter preached THE inaugural message of the Church at Pentecost. So Jesus showed cursing Him was not only forgivable, but it does not disqualify a person from being used by God in significant & powerful ways!
Aside: Do you get that? I ask because there are some who think their sin it too great to be used by God. Forgiven? Yes. Used? No. But that’s not consistent with Jesus & Peter. Simply said, no one can be disqualified from being God’s tool for His Own glory!
What cannot disqualify you? Adultery… Lying… Cheating… Stealing? Anger? Murder? What about drug abuse? Alcoholism? Prostitution? Pride? Homosexuality? Please turn to 1 Cor 6:9…
The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed… sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ & by the Spirit of our God.
It is true that Paul described PRE-CONVERSION lifestyles. And it must be stated that a believer WILL begin… at conversion… a process to grow in holiness. But nothing is written that a slip or mistake invalidates conversion OR future ministry use, if there is confession, humility, & repentance.
But that is another message from 2 Cor 7:10-13. Let’s continue our previous thought…
Ro 8:1, “There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” right? Now, if there is NO condemnation, how can there be a grudge? Without condemnation, how can there be resentment, anger, or hostility FROM GOD TOWARD A BELIEVER? Without condemnation, there is acceptance, love, & joy from God toward all His children! AND AREN’T WE GLAD? 1 Jn 1:9… “If we confess our sins, he is faithful & just to forgive us our sins & to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.”
How many sins are forgiven? ALL! There is no “exception clause” in God’s heart toward any of His children… NO MATTER WHAT THEY’VE DONE OR DO! This is not the way the world thinks or acts. One strike & you’re out in the world. But three strikes (Peter) doesn’t disqualify you with God.
Aside: Again, I’m asking you to insert YOUR life into the Scripture because this is personal. These thoughts may seem unbelievable, but that’s what God’s grace is in our mind… unbelievable, over the top, incredible, too far-fetched. But true none-the-less! How?
Because Jesus redeemed all believers. He paid the penalty for ALL their sin. He absorbed God’s wrath toward us & put on us His perfect, righteous, holy perfection. The cross is about redemption… paying for something/someone on their behalf. Christ redeeming all believers from their sin.
It is at this point that we see where this thought is supported by Scripture. Unless what we believe is support by Scripture, it cannot be… nor is it… true. Consider… (Don’t use all 9. Read 1st, 2nd, 7th, & last):
Ro 3:23 All have sinned & fall short of the glory of God, 24 & are justified by His grace as a gift, thru the redemption that is in Christ… 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, b/c in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just & the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Eph 1:7 In (Jesus) we have redemption thru His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, 8 which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom & insight 9 making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven & things on earth.
Col 1:13 God has delivered us from the domain of darkness & transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Heb 9:11 When Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then thru the greater & more perfect tent (not made w/ hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats & calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us… 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit thru faith.
Gal 4:4 When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And b/c you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, & if a son, then an heir through God.
Titus 2:11 The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness & worldly passions, & to live self-controlled, upright, & godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God & Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness & to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
1 Cor 6:19 Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit w/in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price… 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
What can we take away regarding redemption & the example of Peter?
First, we aren’t worthy of… nor do we deserve… redemption. If God were fair, we’d all go to hell. But God isn’t fair… He’s lovingly merciful. God’s loving mercy resulted in His son redeeming (Paying for) our sin. By redeeming us, all our sin is paid for. Thus every believer always lives in a state of love w/ God… b/c all of His wrath & anger toward us was dealt w/ on the cross.
Second, Redemption is available to all… all you have to do is believe (Ac 16:31).
Third, Being redeemed means God sees you thru Jesus’ blood… clean & sinless. There is no guilt or condemnation. God has used Samaritans, prostitutes, Tax collectors, murders, & adulterers to accomplish His will. As God used them, He can/will use you b/c you’re redeemed!
Last, To ignore Jesus’ redemption of Peter is to miss the point of the Gospel. W/out redemption, there is no Gospel. C’ians must proclaim, & model, redemption… or we’ve lost our message.
What does Redemption look like in real life? Here’s a true story…
I know a pastor who had an affair w/ a church member. He left his wife & married her. After a time he acknowledge his sin… left his adulteress… & reconciled w/ his wife (Years). He moved back to his home town & one day attended a funeral. There he encountered a person from his 1st church. They were looking for a pastor & asked if my friend would mind filling in a few times. He did…
Eventually they asked him to be their pastor. He called me b/c he was not sure he could do it Biblically. I asked: 1) Had he sought forgiveness w/ God, his wife, family, & others? (Yes) 2) Was this congregation aware of the event? (Yes) 3) Did they still want him? (Yes).
Then we talked about Peter… just as we did earlier. We discussed forgiveness, restoration, & redemption at length… over several weeks. We discussed 2 Cor 7:10-13 (Godly/worldly sorrow). Then after prayer, reflection, contemplation, & discussion w/ church leadership… he became their Pastor.
I know what I’ve just described is difficult for some to embrace. Grace usually is. I’m sure some were shocked Jesus would choose Peter to lead the church after his failure. But that’s what grace does. Jesus chose Peter, b/c of his failure, did to show what graceful redemption looked like. Lk 22:31…
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
When Jesus called you, he knew all your faults & failures… including those after conversion (Peter’s denial & curse). Yet still he loves, prays for, uses His children to be glorified!
Have you failed? Yes. Can you be saved? Yes. Can/will God use you? YES! 1 Jn 3:19…
By this we shall know that we are of the truth & reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
What then is preventing you from heeding God’s call?
 The Samaritan Adulteress, John 4:7-39
 Rahab, Hebrews 11:31
 Matthew, Matthew 9:9
 Paul, Acts 22:2-4
 King David, 2 Samuel 11:2-5
 Romans 8:27, 34